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Ultima Vez – What the Body Does Not Remember review – bruisingly powerful

Sadler’s Wells, London

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The language of chaos … Aymara Parola and Eddie Oroyan. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

 

In the 28 years since Wim Vandekeybus created What the Body Does Not Remember, this bruisingly powerful dance work has become a kind of legend. It has become known as the work that pushed dance to new physical extremes, introducing a whole new vocabulary of barrelling combat rolls, high flung kicks, and bodies used as missiles.

These were, of course, the elements that got noticed in 1987. But seeing the work’s revival, I’m conscious of all the other qualities – the comedy, the rhythmic wit and the tightness of structure – that have not been so well remembered.

Vandekeybus’s idea for the piece was to examine the body in states of extreme pressure, to make choreography out of high tension and reflex response. The language he invented was certainly chaotic – sending the performers careening around the stage, ducking and diving and hurling bricks.

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